Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: "Spider-Woman" #1

I'm not much of a Marvel Comics reader. I have always been a DC Comics guy, with "Crisis on Infinite Earths" being my gateway drug. Over the years I've dipped my toes into the Marvel pool as events, characters, writers, and/or artists have piqued my interest.

I've read "Astonishing X-Men" and "Runaways" for Joss Whedon, "She-Hulk" for Dan Slott, and I'm currently reading "Captain America: Reborn" just to see how they manage Steve's return. I'm reading "Marvel Divas" because Girl Friday told me too. "Models, Inc." for the novelty of it; "Punisher: Noir" because it's awesome.

So why did I pick up a copy of "Spider-Woman" #1?

I'm not going to lie. I thought it was a continuation of the Jessica JONES story from "Alias" and "The Pulse," both written by Bendis. I thought that Alex Maleev's art reminded me a lot of the Michael Gaydos art from "Alias" and I grabbed the book up. I really liked what I read, and despite the mistaken identity, I will continue to pull the title because now I want to see what happens.

I didn't feel like I had to go back and read through Civil War or Secret Invasion to get where the book was coming from, and that was accomplished with minimal exposition. Jessica DREW is having a hard time dealing with the fallout from the aforementioned events, we're dropped right in as Jessica is recruited by S.W.O.R.D. and attacked by a Spider-Man suit wearing Skrull. I found it to be a clean read, and a great place to jump into the outskirts of the Marvel Universe.

This is not so much to show how much I am not a Marvel Guy, that I took mistook this Jessica (Drew) for the other one (Jones), nor will this turn into a long calculated analysis about how Marvel and DC (and their respective readers) are oil and water, and cross-over on the pull lists is never 50/50. That's an essay for some other blogger, because if I wanted to write a dissertation, I'd go back to school.

In the end, I think this teaches that even when you're dead-to-rights wrong over the reasons you choose a book, don't let that discourage you from reading it, or even enjoying it. You never know what you're going to find in those 22 glossy pages.

Are there any other Marvel titles out there that a noob like me would like? Leave a comment if you think of any.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: "Superman: Secret Origin"

Geoff Johns. The DCU Master Storyteller who has resurrected numerous characters without expolding most of the landmines involved with retroactive continuity.

Gary Franks. One of the best artists in comics today, and one of my favorites since "Midnight Nation" almost 10 years ago.

They knocked Action Comics out of the park over the last couple of years. What could go wrong with this re-telling of the humble beginnings of the Man of Steel?

Sadly, quite a bit.

Nevermind that when I personally think of the "true" origin of Superman I go back to the John Byrne relaunch following Crisis on Infinite Earths. Nevermind the fact that Mark Waid's "Birthright" series was only 5-6 years ago. I went into the first issue of "Secret Origin" with an open mind, excited to see what these creators could do, and I finished the issue saddened.

Writing: Not only was the story unoriginal, but because of the fact that Johns is writing for the show, and all of the properties are under the same corporate umbrella, I think that DC Comics is trying to make "Smallville" canon. So much so, I honestly expected a Chloe Sullivan cameo to happen before the book ended. Guess did.

Clark breaks Pete Ross' arm. Clark discovers that his heat vision is triggered by sexual arousal. Lana Lang is a whiny, self-centered twit. All "Smallville" staples.

Lex Luthor is once again somehow a resident of Smallville. After being written out of the city's history in Byrne's Man of Steel, and then being re-injected as a Clark Kent peer by Waid, Geoff Johns introduces us to a Lex Luthor who is older than Clark, a basement scientist and conspiracy theorist, and who finds a chunk of Kryptonite out in the field after running away from his drunk father. Also, Lex has a sister?

By the time the issue is over, Lex hates Clark for the dumbest reason ever, flight has been established, and Lil' Clark is suited up. We're told to expect the Legion in the next issue.

I guess settling the lawsuit over "Superboy" has opened the floodgates for these storylines to come back.

Art: I was really happy when Franks took over Action Comics and began to draw Clark Kent/Superman to resemble Christopher Reeve (pictured left). I thought that was an inspired and iconic touch and I applauded it. That trend is maintained in "Secret Origin" except that Franks seems to have caught whatever bug plagues John Byrne, and is drawing everyone that way. Also, Teenage Clark looks 35.

Overall: I give it 2 "Mehs" and a "Whatever." Why fix things that aren't broken?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Best Comic I Read Last Week: Angel #25 (Spoilers)

One of the best things about the current "Angel" title from IDW is the willingness of the former show writers and actors to get involved with the continuing storyline after the show was - in my opinion, prematurely - cancelled after it's 5th season.

Like the "8th Season" theme Dark Horse's "Buffy" monthly, "Angel: After the Fall" is giving us what we might have seen had the show(s) continued. We're seeing the life and afterlife of every character, and the book will occasionally take a tangent to showcase a character that hasn't been seen. In the case of Issue #25 (and #24), it's our old friend and pet, Drusilla.

Written by Drusilla herself (Juliet Landau) with an assist from Brian Lynch, we are shown that Dru's been cooped up in the Cuckoo's Nest for a while, but with the entire world - or at least Los Angeles - literally going to Hell she sees her chance to re-enter society in a manner befitting her mental state.

After slaughtering most of the staff in issue #24, #25 finds us more in Drusilla's head as she revisits her origins in the convent, when she was converted by Angelus and Darla. Drusilla also begins having premonitions of what's happening outside the walls of her current housing, and all of this is captured brilliantly by Franco Urru's art.

Urru's faces here are unusually identifiable, something I'm sure the author had a say in.

The two remaining doctors in the facility attempt to analyze and dismiss Dru's visions, but when Drusilla's vision of all of those she has killed - including a cameo from Collin, The Annointed One - becomes reality (at least to her), those manifestations take over.

As the doctors run for their lives, Drusilla gives into her demons, and suddenly finds herself back in Victorian England, pre-vamp, and in her home with her dolls. Is Dru dust in the wind, or just missing in her own head? You be the judge.

The issue ends with a quote from C.S. Lewis: "Do I believe in actual Hell? One's own mind is actual enough." Drusilla didn't need to be in the literal Hell outside, when she was trapped in her own Hell already.

In the end, sometimes it's all just in our heads. I rather enjoyed this trip through the mind of Ms. Landau, and that of her muse, Drusilla.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

National Comic Book Day

Coming up next Friday on Sept. 25th, 2009 is National Comic Book Day.

Not to be confused with Free Comic Book Day, NCBD is a chance to share your love for comics with friends who might not be into them. You could also pick up a couple of titles you've never read before and give 'em try.
Maybe you have some trade paperbacks that you've read and don't want to hang onto any longer. You could donate them to the library or pass them along to friends.
You might like to make a comic book-themed cake to celebrate the day.

Or, perhaps you could just dress up in a superhero costume and worry your family and scare the neighbors.

Whatever you decide to do or however you want to celebrate is up to you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Analysis On Being A "Red Shirt"

If you've got a few minutes to kill and want to read something funny, I suggest you take a look at this analyis of the "Red-Shirt Phenomenom".

It's an interesting subject, given that a lot of people (not just Trekkies... or Trekkers) are familiar with the phrase "Red Shirt".

For example:
The basic stats:
The Enterprise has a crew of 430 ( in its five-year mission. (Now, I know that the show was only on the air for 3 years, but bear with me. 80 episodes were produced, which gives us the data to build from.) 59 crewmembers were killed during the mission, which comes out to 13.7% of the crew. So, that will be our overall conversion rate, 13.7%.
Data Segmentation:
However, we need to segment the overall mortality (conversion) rate in order to gain the specific information that we need:
  • Yellow-shirt crewperson deaths: 6 (10%)
  • Blue-Shirt crewperson deaths: 5 (8 %)
  • Engineering smock crewperson deaths: 4
  • Red-Shirt crewperson deaths: 43 (73%)
He goes on from there breaking it down into nice little statistics, but that ought to give you enough to want to read further.

In the meantime, please enjoy this...

(Red-Shirt analysis found via the Presurfer)